GPS Tracking Being Used in Australia Koala Conservation Project

14 Feb 2017

Australia’s Sunshine Coast Regional Council does much to conserve the koala population in Noosa. With the Council currently helping a variety of conservation agencies and scientists on an array of projects in the area, they’ve made a serious pledge to help research the health, movements, and any potential threats to koalas living in the area.

One aspect of this work is finding out where koalas are currently living in the area, another being keeping a health check on the creatures. In addition to this, the Council is currently working on carrying out a koala infrastructure audit.

As part of a pilot program, scientists are monitoring koalas in Noosa Shire by tagging them with GPS tracking devices. In conjunction with the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (EVE), this is the first project of its kind that’s run in conjunction with The Richard Branson Koala Conservancy. In past years, both USC and EVE have run successful koala projects utilizing the same methodology.

The marsupials are captured and given a health assessment. If any are found to be unwell, they’re then given treatment. However, healthy animals are fitted with GPS tracking collars, then released back into their natural habitat. They’re also to be given the University of the Sunshine Coast-developed koala chlamydia vaccine.

The GPS tracking collars relay information on the movements of the koala group back to EVE by electronic means. This means that when one of the animals comes to a stop or slows down, the team can find it and ascertain whether it is unwell or injured and from there, any threats to the animals’ well-being can be pinpointed.

In addition, all koala sightings that are conveyed to the Council are reported on to the USC program, helping the Council to work on their new planning scheme. The Council has also been working with o2Ecology to pinpoint places where the animals come into contact with human environments, enabling them to identify where infrastructure investments should be made to ensure the safety of the marsupials.

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